The Principality of Liechtenstein was established within the Holy Roman Empire in 1719; it became a sovereign state in 1806. Until the end of World War I, it was closely tied to Austria, but the economic devastation caused by that conflict forced Liechtenstein to enter into a customs and monetary union with Switzerland. Since World War II (in which Liechtenstein remained neutral), the country's low taxes have spurred outstanding economic growth.
Population: 33,436 (July 2004).
Population growth rate: 0.86 % (2004).
Life expectancy at birth: 79.4 years.
Religions: Roman Catholic 76.2%, Protestant 7%, unknown 10.6%, other 6.2%.
Ethnic groups: Alemannic 86%, Italian, Turkish, and other 14%.
Language: German (official), Alemannic dialect.
Nationality: noun - Liechtensteiner(s). Adjective - Liechtenstein.
Country name: Principality of Liechtenstein (local: Fuerstentum Liechtenstein).
Government type: hereditary constitutional monarchy on a democratic and parliamentary basis.
Independence: 23 January 1719 Imperial Principality of Liechtenstein established; 12 July 1806 established independence from the Holy Roman Empire.
Administrative divisions: 11 communes (Gemeinden, singular - Gemeinde); Balzers, Eschen, Gamprin, Mauren, Planken, Ruggell, Schaan, Schellenberg, Triesen, Triesenberg, Vaduz.
Terrain: mostly mountainous (Alps) with Rhine Valley in western third .
Total area: 160 km˛.
Highest point: Grauspitz 2,599 m (lowest point: Ruggeller Riet 430 m).
Climate: continental; cold, cloudy winters with frequent snow or rain; cool to moderately warm, cloudy, humid summers.
Despite its small size and limited natural resources, Liechtenstein has developed into a prosperous, highly industrialized, free-enterprise economy with a vital financial service sector and living standards on a par with its large European neighbors. The Liechtenstein economy is widely diversified with a large number of small businesses. Low business taxes - the maximum tax rate is 20% - and easy incorporation rules have induced many holding or so-called letter box companies to establish nominal offices in Liechtenstein, providing 30% of state revenues. The country participates in a customs union with Switzerland and uses the Swiss franc as its national currency. It imports more than 90% of its energy requirements. Liechtenstein has been a member of the European Economic Area (an organization serving as a bridge between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the EU) since May 1995. The government is working to harmonize its economic policies with those of an integrated Europe.
GDP (purchasing power parity): US$ 825 million (1999).
GDP per capita (purchasing power parity): US$ 25,000 (1999)
GDP growth rate: 11 % (1999).
Unemployment rate: 1.3 % (2002).
Currency: Swiss franc (CHF).
Industries: electronics, metal manufacturing, dental products, ceramics, pharmaceuticals, food products, precision instruments, tourism, optical instruments.
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